It’s interesting to see that the topic of grief is still in some ways a taboo topic. People hate to talk about grief, emotions, and death. We feel very awkward talking or even thinking about grief because it makes us feel so uncomfortable. So, the ego mind will try to avoid it at all costs, putting us in denial as a result of a coping mechanism.
There are so many beliefs and presumptions about grief, yet no one feels comfortable talking about it. The worst opinion about grief is when people believe that they have only 1 year to grieve and that after that 1 year they should feel better or should not bring the dead person/ loved one into the conversation. How damaging that belief is?!
I believe you will be grieving the loved one for the rest of your life. Grief doesn’t have a time limit. Grief doesn’t get either bigger or smaller. But it is we who are left behind that are learning to live without this person. It is we who are growing through the sorrow. It is almost like we are learning to live again, but this time without that loved one.
Stages of grief
It is believed that there are only five stages of grief: Depression, Anger, Denial, Bargaining, and Acceptance. Those stages do not necessarily need to be processed in that order. Grief is a very individual and intimate process. So, everyone would approach and experience grief differently. It also depends on what relationship you had with the deceased person.
However, I believe there are more than 5 stages. I would add at least another 3:
Protest- you are not in denial anymore, but you are not agreeing to what happened. It’s like every cell in you is protesting and wants to demand the person back! But at the same time, there is a feeling of hopelessness for that demand. You are not angry but feeling the emotional pain, the hole somewhere in your heart.
Regrets– you go through the relationship you had with the person who died, and you feel regrets regarding all the things you didn’t do yet or didn’t say or say… It’s not bargaining <if I did this or that maybe they would still be alive>, it’s just the feeling of regrets. This is about the relationship between the two of you. It’s about things you didn’t get to do together or the things you wish you never said or did. This is more about analyzing and memorising the relationship.
Compassion- you have fully accepted that they are dead, yet you feel compassion towards yourself and them. You feel compassion towards life. You might still feel sad from time to time because you miss them but you are no longer fighting with yourself, grief, or what happened. More… you learned to love more as a result. This is about the spiritual approach to your loss. But in here there is also a knowing that you two will meet again… someday, somehow, somewhere…
Although grief brings lots of pain, sadness, sorrow, and despair… it seems like a dark nothingness- hole with no limit, it is the unknown to us, and it is always out of our comfort zone… that is exactly what makes us grow hugely throughout this human being journey.
We can only grow and evolve when we step out of our comfort zone. This is not easy at all. But there is always the second end… there is always something for us to take in as a lesson.
Our job is to surrender to it, live it, feel it, embrace it, become part of it, detach from it, and take on board every valuable lesson we learned throughout this difficult process.
Lack of control and trauma
One of the reasons why grief is so tricky is because it is completely out of our control, and we hate that feeling. We hate feeling helpless, vulnerable, and hopeless.
When it comes to death, we never know when or how, but we know it is going to happen… someday… that knowledge itself is forcing us to surrender to this. Surrender doesn’t come easy to us, simply because we have a “build-in-system” to survive. It is our most primitive instinct to fight or fight to survive. It is programmed in us.
However, it is important to note that the flight or fight response is the response to trauma. It means that every loss, grieving process, mourning, and bereavement can be a traumatic experience for us. So, this is why, it is so important for us to keep looking after ourselves, take a break, prioritize self-care, and let go of any judgment or hardship upon ourselves.
The thing with trauma is that it has to BE processed otherwise, it will get stuck in our body, and it will get stuck in our muscles and nervous system. And as a result, you will constantly live in survival mode- flight, or fight mode. That itself is very damaging to your nervous system, brain, and to your physical health overall. Because when you are in survival mode your body constantly produces cortisol (the stress hormone).
Remember, the body always remembers. So, the more resistance you will create the more damaging effects it will bring to your life.
Grief is something you need to process, you need to learn to embrace it. If the death of a loved one was traumatic to you, my advice is to seek professional help. A good psychotherapist will be able to help you with this deep, intimate, difficult journey. But most importantly you will never feel lonely during this process.
I wish you all the best, I wish you strength, faith, and love to find your way to cope with your grief in a HEALTHY way.
With lots of love,